Hundreds gathered in Judson Memorial Church in New York City to hear Icelandic parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir, who worked with WikiLeaks to produce the 'Collateral Murder' video in 2010, discuss the trial and persecution of Army private Bradley Manning. Manning passed the video, which shows U.S. Apache gunners shooting unarmed journalists and civilians in Iraq, to WikiLeaks in 2010 hoping to expose criminal activity and to make Americans more aware of their government’s abuses abroad.
Jonsdottir joined a panel, along with FireDogLake’s Kevin Gosztola, independent journalist Alexa O’Brien, and media critic Peter Hart, for a discussion moderated by Sam Seder. They recounted Manning’s legal proceedings and his detention exceeding 1,000 days without trial, including nearly a year of solitary confinement and several mornings of forced nudity -- conditions the U.N. torture chief called "cruel, degrading, and inhuman."
In attendance were musicians Lou Reed of the Velvet Underground and Laurie Anderson, documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney, investigative journalist Greg Palast, and about 300 others.
Before the panel discussion, attendees viewed the Collateral Murder video, Laura Poitras’s short documentary about the video and Manning’s description of it, and they viewed and purchased photo stills from the video. They also bid on artist Molly Crabapple’s portraits of Bradley Manning. Proceeds went to the Bradley Manning Defense Fund, which covers 100% of Manning’s legal costs and is funded by grassroots donations around the world.
Bradley Manning recently took responsibility for releasing hundreds of thousands of documents to WikiLeaks as an act of conscience, in a guilty plea of 10 lesser offenses which would amount to up to 20 years in prison. However, the government is pursuing all 22 of its original counts against Manning, including “aiding the enemy,” which would carry a life sentence without parole. Manning’s trial is scheduled to start June 3, 2013, at Fort Meade, Maryland. He returns to court this week for a pretrial hearing, from April 10-12.